You have got to be kidding us. A runner’s supply store with outstanding espresso — perhaps the best in town? You bet. And a big thanks to veteran San Jose Coffee Geek, Gary Hutchison, for publicizing this unusual discovery.
This place ran as an online-only store for several years before opening this physical location in the old Fine Arts theater in the Fall of 2008. Walk past the aisles of Lycra, and in the back by the running shoes, you’ll find a small espresso bar run by serious espresso enthusiasts.
They use beans from the small and local Moksha Coffee Roasting, who roasts beans for them around four times per week. The barista here (Don, ZombieRunner’s co-owner) is very deliberate. We ordered the first shot of the day, and he took his time working out several shots just to make sure he got it right.
Using a two-group Rancilio HX machine, he employed what’s known as the “Weiss Distribution Technique” — which is an overly fancy term for stirring grounds with a stick, held steady inside the portafilter basket with a hollowed out yogurt cup, to ensure the evenness of an extracted espresso shot.
Don pulls careful espresso shots with a highly textured, mottled medium and dark brown crema: it has the dark colors and red speckling you expect from espresso done right. The crema is also rather full and thick, and it makes a shot that’s a true emulsion between liquid and solids. It has a potent aroma, a firm-but-not-heavy body, and a robust flavor of cloves and herbal pungency with some tobacco notes. There isn’t much sweetness in the shot, but it’s done so well you don’t miss it much.
They serve it in a double-walled Bodum glass — with an aperitif glass of sparkling water on the side. Great stuff. ZombieRunner is more than just a convenient place for good espresso; this is definitely worth the trip as an espresso destination. A new vacuum pot has also arrived for other brewing options.